Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wrists Slapped In Campaign Law Violation

It’s probably just us, but it’s hard for us to imagine that if it had been urban Memphis rather than Germantown that Attorney General Bill Gibbons would have been as cavalier about enforcing campaign laws.

Mix in a name like Ford, and it seems unfathomable that the culprits would essentially be told to say they’re sorry and behave.

And yet, that’s essentially what was done for three Germantown aldermanic candidates, Gary Pruitt, Frank Uhlhorn and Mike Palazzolo who mailed out a ballot resembling the official Shelby County Republican Party ballot, which was not making endorsements in the races. The problem is that contrary to state law, the brochure did not bear the names of its sponsors.

The violation carried with it a misdemeanor conviction and a $50 fine, and while the prosecutor said it would be a lot of work for such a meager result, we thought it was the principle of the thing that mattered.

As we said, we just have trouble seeing that it would have been treated the same if the cast of characters and the area were different. Punishment for the Germantown 3 was that they acknowledge publicly the error of their ways and their responsibilities for the fraudulent ballot.

Local Republican Party Chairman Bill Giannini, in a burst of cynical circular logic, said: “I can tell you plenty of candidates, if they thought the only thing that stood between them and victory, was a class B misdemeanor and a $50 fine, they’d sign up all day long. That is not discouragement.”

Apparently, we’re supposed to believe that a public apology will make them tow the line.


b said...

Enforcing the law is too much work? Wow.

Anonymous said...

Too bad they aren't going after Commissioner Sidney Chism who fixed the Democratic ballot.

antisocialist said...

It's disgusting how in this community that partisanship seems to stand in the way of doing what is right. I have consistently voted against one of the clowns mentioned in the original post for this reason.

Anonymous said...

2:44 p.m. You must have proof to back up your statement,otheriwse it might be considered slander.

Would you share the facts if you have them?

Anonymous said...

wont matter. the new Republican legislature gets to REPLACE the County election commission.

fieldguidetomemphis said...

If we were really serious about protecting Democracy and ensuring Democratic principles during elections, especially in the final weeks and days of elections, and especially when they are quite close, we would attach harsher penalties for illegal behavior.

Slaps on the wrist are not going to curtail illegal and undemocratic behavior. If elections-tampering carried more stringent penalties, the behavior would stop. It's incredible to me that there were robocalls and fliers that were issued in certain communities prior to the November 4th election which instructed Democratic voters to vote on the November 5th, and that these kinds of strategies are commonplace non-news items, relatively ignored, and disappointingly ubiquitous.

I can't believe we take such a ho-hum approach to the fundamentals of democracy. If these crimes were felonies, they would stop.

fieldguidetomemphis said...

PS I should have used little d's in the first sentence, not capital D's.